How can planners help prepare clients nearing retirement for how they are actually going to spend all their waking hours?

Daniel Sheehan, founder of Sheehan Life Planning in Fresno, Calif., asks such clients to fill out a weekly calendar with the activities they plan to do in a typical week.

“Most have a very difficult time completing the task with anything meaningful listed, which then presents an opportunity to talk about the potential, down-deep heart's wishes they have buried for so long, and talk about ways to accomplish them,” he says.

Jay Blanchard, a financial planner at NEXT Financial Group Inc. in Williamsville, N.Y., encourages clients, especially men, to find a hobby.

“A lot of guys are susceptible to just sitting in their easy chair, watching football games all day and dying early,” he says. “They had worked their butt off all of their lives, and then they just switched off because they have no goals.”

Upon retirement, some clients get thrust into taking care of an aging family member or get taken advantage of by having extra time to care for grandchildren, says Catherine M. Seeber, a principal at Wescott Financial Advisory Group LLC in Philadelphia.

“Not that either is a bad thing. They just forget about themselves,” Seeber says.

“In preparation, I'll walk them through an informal ‘bliss list,’ asking questions such as, ‘If money was not an object, what would you want to do that you would like to be remembered for?’” she says.

Seeber recommends that clients network with like-minded individuals to explore their options.

Clients who are about to retire often don’t take into account the emotions of being needed, having a daily purpose, losing daily work relationships and friendships, and the adjustment that their spouses may have to make having them home all day, says Terrance Martin, managing partner at Tranquility Financial Planning in McAllen, Texas.

“I always like clients to paint me a picture of what a day in their life would look like in retirement,” he says.

“I then tell them to multiply that day by 30 days, 180 days, 365 days and then of course 10 to 20 years. It’s at this time they get the ‘aha’ moment of retirement not being all cracked up to what they thought it would be,” Martin says.

When recommending volunteer activities or hobbies, it is best if planners can point to specific opportunities, he says.

Planners should sit on nonprofit boards, be involved in their community and even take an interest in their clients’ hobbies.

“Your recommendation is only good if you’re trying to do some of these things as well,” Martin says.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer in Running Springs, Calif. She has contributed to American Banker, Risk & Insurance and Human Resource Executive.

This story is part of a 30-day series on Social Security and retirement income strategies.

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